Fish’s points arrive in thoughtful, dense provocations that will require close attention from readers.

THE FIRST

HOW TO THINK ABOUT HATE SPEECH, CAMPUS SPEECH, RELIGIOUS SPEECH, FAKE NEWS, POST-TRUTH, AND DONALD TRUMP

An acclaimed scholar digs into the conventional wisdom about free speech.

Can anybody ever speak or write a controversial truth without consequences flowing from those words? So asks Fish (Humanities and Law/Florida International Univ.; Winning Arguments: What Works and Doesn't Work in Politics, the Bedroom, the Courtroom, and the Classroom, 2016, etc.), and his answer is that nearly always, consequences abound. “The one thing speech isn’t is free,” he writes at the beginning of the first chapter. “There are costs to those who produce it and to those who are subjected to it.” Throughout this brief book, the author challenges those who argue that the First Amendment is a bedrock principle. Fish believes that free speech does not rise to “principle” under the Constitution but rather resides there as a “value”—and values are squishy, dependent on the timing, location, and manner of the speech. When opposing parties argue over a value, writes the author, somebody will ultimately lose the argument—meaning, obviously, that the loser might experience adverse consequences. Fish fills the chapters with controversies, some from actual occurrences and some hypothetical. One real example: Must society give Holocaust deniers an untrammeled voice? If the answer is yes, Holocaust survivors and their descendants suffer pain. If the answer is no, then the free speech of the deniers has been circumscribed. After an introductory chapter explaining that free speech controversies arise because censorship in any society is inevitable, the author uses the remaining four chapters to examine controversial speech from the vantage point of university campuses, organized religion, and the idea of “fake news.” In the epilogue, Fish tackles the question “What Does It All Mean?” For the author, it means that free speech will never be—and should never be—completely free.

Fish’s points arrive in thoughtful, dense provocations that will require close attention from readers.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982115-24-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: One Signal/Atria

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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